Tagged in: Nikola Jokic

Nuggets eliminate Trail Blazers in Game 6 with 126-115 win

Nikola Jokic had 36 points and the Denver Nuggets eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in six matches with a 126-115 triumph Thursday night.

Michael Porter Jr. added 26 points, including 22 in the opening quarter, for the third-seeded Nuggets. They await the outcome of the first-round series between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.

Denver advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season.

Damian Lillard finished with 28 points and 13 assists for the sixth-seeded Blazers. They led by 14 points in the third quarter but couldn’t stave off elimination. Monte Morris hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close Denver to 101-98 heading into the last period. Jokic hit a 3-pointer to put Denver ahead 108-106 and Denver stretched it to 117-108 on Austin Rivers’ 3 with 3:52 left.

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Portland tired to catch up, getting to 121-115 on CJ McCollum’s layup, but Aaron Gordon hit a 3-pointer that all but sealed it for Denver with less than a minute to go.

The Nuggets took a 3-2 lead in the series with a 147-140 double overtime victory in Denver on Tuesday night.

It spoiled Lillard’s epic playoff performance: He had 55 points, including 12 3-pointers, and 10 assists. It was the most 3-pointers ever in a playoff game.

The Blazers needed big man Jusuf Nurkic to stay out of foul trouble. Tasked with defending Jokic, he fouled out in three of the first five matches.

Nurkic didn’t have a foul in the first half, but then had four quick fouls in the third quarter and had to head to the bench.

Porter had six 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, tying an NBA playoff record for most 3s a quarter. Lillard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Blazers a 68-61 lead at the half. He raised his arms to encourage the crowd as he headed off the floor.

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Jokic, Nuggets win easily again, rout Knicks 114-89

Nikola Jokic had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in another short night, and the Denver Nuggets reached .500 for the first time this campaign with a 114-89 triumph over the New York Knicks on Sunday.

The Nuggets opened 1-4 after reaching the Western Conference finals last season but have now answered with four wins in five games.

The last two were easy. The Nuggets pulled away from the seven-man 76ers in the third quarter and rested their starters in the fourth of a 115-103 victory Saturday. They jumped on the Knicks much earlier Sunday and it was never a game after halftime.

This was the first time the Nuggets permitted fewer than 100 points this season. “I think our defense in the last five has been a lot better than it was to begin the season in the first five games,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “A marked improvement.”

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Gary Harris added 14 points for the Nuggets, who got only nine from star guard Jamal Murray.

“I think Jokic puts a lot of pressure on you, so you can’t let your guard down for a second,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau stated. “And I thought we got in a hole early and when you give a team like that that type of confidence, it’s very difficult to come back on them.”

Julius Randle had 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Knicks, which the team said made him the only player other than Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson to have at least 200 points, 115 rebounds and 70 assists in his team’s first 10 games of a season.

But Randle had little help with nobody else over 12 points as the Knicks dropped their second straight following a three-game winning streak. They were held to an anemic 89 points in both games.

Denver led 28-21 after one, then made its first six shots of the second with its reserves on the floor to open a 40-22 lead on JaMychal Green’s layup. The lead ballooned to 22 late in the first half before the Nuggets took a 59-38 advantage to the break.

“We huddle up before the tipoff and just say let’s be better than the other team’s bench,” reserve Monte Morris said. “Let’s go out there and try to bring the energy and if the starters start slow let’s pick them up ,and if they start fast let’s sustain whatever they got going on.”

Jokic had eight points while playing the whole third quarter and the Nuggets led by as much as 30 in the fourth.

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Nuggets star Nikola Jokic clears quarantine in NBA’s Orlando bubble

Since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 back on March 11, prompting the suspension of the NBA season, dozens of players have sadly also come down with the virus. Thankfully none of them have become seriously ill, but a few, including Spencer Dinwiddie and Taurean Prince, have been forced to sit out of the league’s plan to resume the season at Disney World later this month. 

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was another who tested positive for the coronavirus, but he will be able to play after returning multiple negative tests, both in his native Serbia, where he was infected, and back in Denver.

While it’s terrific news that Jokic has been cleared, the timing of the tests meant he was unable to join the Nuggets on their flight to Orlando Jokic tested positive for COVID-19 back in June, just a few days after he was spotted hanging out with tennis star Novak Djokovic, who also ended up testing positive.

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The fact that Jokic is already healthy is great news, first and foremost, just for him and his family’s sake.

This virus is extremely unpredictable, and even with healthy people like Jokic, there are no guarantees. 

his virus is extremely unpredictable, and even with healthy people like Jokic, there are no guarantees. 

So that, of course, is the main priority, but also from a basketball perspective, this is big for the Nuggets. They’re in third place in the loaded Western Conference at 43-22 and will need Jokic operating at a high level if they want to improve on last season’s second-round playoff exit. 

How Jokic will fare once play starts obviously remains to be seen, not just because of his ordeal with the virus and the strange circumstances of this bubble, but because he lost a tremendous amount of weight during the quarantine — so much so that he apparently has abs now, according to Nuggets president Tim Connelly. 

While having abs is never a bad thing, it will be attractive to see how Jokic fares with a smaller frame. He’s always been a guy that’s used his bulk to throw opponents around and carve out space, and he might not be able to do that to quite the same extent anymore. 

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